WBIE is pretty new to the games industry – what’s your strategy?
Our main objective is to establish all of the Warner Bros. franchises in the video game market, and not just to be a movie games publisher. I’d like to ensure that the franchises we have are anticipated by gamers and the industry. To do this we need quality product and we’ll achieve this through a mix of publishing our own product as we do with Monolith and TT Games and licensing product out to other publishers. As long as we can make our games successful and of high quality that’s the goal.
The TT Games deal was a strong statement of intent, and it’s clear you’re after more studios – are there any in particular that have caught your eye?
I’m a strong believer that we are not going after developers just for a developer – we are going after developers for a certain purpose.
If we see something we want to do in a particular genre with a particular IP, then we will go after the developer that fits that genre and the IP we have. The way I’m looking at it is to look at the IP, look at the genre that would fit that IP, and then go to the developer that can complete that title for us.
Are you going to be creating new IP as well as relying on Warner’s existing portfolio?
It’s going to be natural for us, if you look at Warner’s history, to create IP. But where we are in the cycle of maturity at the moment, LEGO Batman is one of the first games since we launched.
We’re just starting up in the games business, so at the moment we’re concentrating on the games we have and on making them well. Then we can go after new IP. We have developers come to us every week with ideas but it’s not necessarily our main focus at this stage.
Warner has some amazing franchise properties and we are continually looking at ways to innovate and to take these forward, whether that be in-house or with external licensees.
It’s clear Warner will be taking back licences that have been farmed out in the past – has this caused any tension with your former partners?
If there is any tension, I don’t feel it. I think the games industry is changing – everybody wants to have their own IP and the licensing part of it is smaller now. I don’t see any pressure at this time. We’re building up slowly but surely and we’ll take our time.
Is gaming being taken seriously at the very highest level of Warner Bros?
I asked that question myself when I took this job, and the commitment within the highest level of Warner Bros. for the games division is very strong.
It’s natural that games become more important within Warner Bros just because it is another peak of the entertainment industry.
They want to get the right people and I think that’s what we’re trying to achieve. I don’t think it’s about how fast we want to be there, it’s about doing the right things at the right time. So far it’s gone very well – it’s clear there’s a huge opportunity here.
What are your thoughts on digital distribution? Does being a fledgling publisher help you push into new areas more aggressively than existing big players?
Downloads is something that we’re pushing a lot and it’s something that we are doing with the Watchmen – we are doing the video game which is download only. It will be available at the movie launch and we will release another episode later.
The numbers for digital distribution will grow in the future but retail remains by far the main way to sell games. The Watchmen is a great initiative for us – it’s nothing to do with the downloadable maps that you usually see online, it is about a real game – four hours of gameplay and we’re making sure with Sony and Microsoft that it will be available in the right place on their networks.
The current climate is hugely competitive – as a new publisher, do you worry that there are simply too many new games and publishers battling it out this Q4?
It is a big issue. What makes a game a success is timing, quality and the market you are going after. If you can correctly identify those three key elements, you will succeed.
If you get the timing wrong, or the market wrong, it becomes difficult.
As a new company, we have to make sure we get those right. We’re serious about making things right and timing for us is very important. We won’t put our games up against 20 other similar games.